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How Much Does Hardwood Stair Installation Cost?

Last Updated: January 14, 2022

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A staircase is one of the most visible parts of the home. By converting carpeted stairs to hardwood, you can markedly improve your home's interior design. For a relatively small project, however, stair installation costs can run quite high due to the amount of labor involved. While it's possible for an experienced do-it-yourselfer to pull off the job, the detail-oriented nature of the work is best left to a pro in most cases.

Installing Hardwood Stairs: An Overview #

Stairs have three major components: treads (the horizontal boards; the portion of the stair that you actually walk on), risers (the vertical sections of wood between the treads), and stair nosing (a rounded, finishing piece that extends beyond the tread over the riser). You can also buy premade treads with a rounded edge, eliminating the need to buy separate nosing.

If you currently have carpeted stairs, tearing up the carpet will reveal a plywood substrate. The new hardwood stairs will be attached to the substrate. If the stairs are already made of hardwood, it's possible to install the new stairs over the old ones (although modifications may be necessary if the new stairs overlap the stair stringer, or skirting). Construction adhesive and nails are used to secure the stairs.

Hardwood Stair Options #

  • Wood Type: Any species of hardwood, as well as engineered wood products, can be used for stair construction.
  • Prefinished or Unfinished: As with hardwood flooring, prefinished wood and unfinished wood is available. Prefinished stairs require no work onsite; they're sanded, sealed, and top-coated at the factory. Unfinished wood is wood in its raw state; all finish work must be performed onsite. Custom-built hardwood stairs are more often made from unfinished wood. This option provides greater customization, as you can not only choose any wood species, but also any stain color and finish (glossy, semi-gloss, or satin). Unfinished wood, however, requires more labor.
  • Matched or Unmatched Risers and Runners: Stairs can have either all-hardwood risers and runners, or risers made from less-expensive softwood (often pine or poplar) and painted white (or another color). The latter option will somewhat reduce labor and material costs.
  • Carpeted Runners & Other Nonslip Solutions: Because hardwood stairs can be slippery (and a slip and fall on a staircase can be particularly nasty), some homeowners choose to install a carpeted runner that allows for safer walking. Nonslip tread covers are also available, as are stain-additive products such as SharkGrip.

Hardwood Stair Installation Costs #

  • Installing hardwood stairs costs approximately $100 to $200 per step, including labor and materials. Assuming that the stair case has 17-20 stairs, that's a total estimated cost of $1,700 to $4,000.
  • Depending on the contractor, staining and finishing (with a urethane product) the newly-installed stairs might be included with the job. If not, it will cost extra (of course, you can stain/finish the stairs yourself).
  • Actual costs depend on the area of the country you live in, the materials selected, the stair dimensions, the number of stairs, and whether any additional construction needs to be performed to accommodate the new stairs.
  • Many contractors will charge less for an "add-on" project (that is, installing stairs in addition to hardwood floors). "Stand alone" stair projects tend to cost more.

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